MVP guide: How to get your product off the ground

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. This is a version of a product that has just enough features to be usable by early customers to provide feedback for further product development.

Giving customers an actual version of a product or service in the form of an MVP allows for the collection of more accurate and reliable data. Essentially, this takes a lot of the guesswork out of the development stage, and you can use customers’ opinions and behaviours to more accurately design or develop your final product.

MVP Minimum Viable ProductIn most cases, a business will want to test out the functionality of a very basic version of what they have to offer—such as when the founder of Zappo wanted to sell shoes, and rather than purchase inventory to test the idea, he posted pictures of the shoes online. He simply purchased inventory if customers ordered the shoes; this saved him money and time. Having more reliable data based on how customers use or interact with a product helps to cut back on unnecessary development work.

The trouble with MVP

Some companies lose sight of the bigger picture, and get too caught up in the word Minimum that they forget that the more important aspect is viability. In these cases, they are missing out on getting the right kind of feedback on features that are really going to make or break a customer’s desire to purchase or use a product. When developing ideas, it’s crucial that you understand exactly what you’re heading towards; there are different places in which you can look for more information, such as this MVP guide by Railsware.

MVP is also not necessarily about launching a product, but learning from it. The MVP is the ticket to understanding how to build products, and the process for validated learning. MVP will test different concepts and hypotheses to find out what will cover a customer’s needs.

How do you define and launch your MVP?

The first thing that you’ll want to do is to make sure that your MVP aligns with your team or company’s strategic goals. What are these goals? How are you working towards them? What resources do you have? How will your MVP serve your goals? These questions will most likely have an impact on the overall concept development of your MVP.

Almost 90% of start-ups fail due to a lack of resources, funds, and patience. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself, or waste time and resources on a product that isn’t going to bring you closer to your goals and objectives. One possible way to establish the alignment and viability of your product is to take a look at this guide for some basic information on MVP development.

The next stage will be to define the problems and improvements that you want to solve and make for your customers. When deciding which features to include and limit in your MVP, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Competitive analysis
  • The time to apply feedback from users to the functionality of the product
  • User research
  • The costs to implement different factors into development

You could also benefit from looking into different kinds of MVPs, to get a better idea of what you need to be focusing on. The following video covers thirteen different types of MVPs:

Next, you’ll want to develop all of this into action. You have now weighed up different elements, and settled on the limited functionality of your MVP. It’s time to put this into an action plan for development. Remember that the V in MVP is very important—the product needs to be viable. This means that your costumers need to be able to complete an entire task that still provides quality user experience. Your MVP cannot be made up of half-built tools and features; it should be a working product that your business could sell. 

The minimum viable product is a great tool to use in developing a product that aligns with your company’s goals and objectives. While you’re working with a product that’s somewhat limited, it still needs to be viable for your customers to use. The feedback that you receive will help you to further the product’s development in a more accurate manner, and to gain a strong idea of your customers’ desires. The MVP is, however, neither a half-completed nor a fully developed product; it exists to serve the customer while still clearing a path for future development. It should have room to grow, yet still, already be capable of being sold or used by your company.